Aid organizations support the UN’s $7 billion appeal for the crisis in the Horn of Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya — Humanitarian agencies are calling for full funding of the United Nations’ $7 billion appeal for the Horn of Africa at a pledging conference this week, citing the growing crisis and the need for urgent life-saving intervention.

The UN says the region is facing its worst drought in 40 years, with more than 43.3 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya in need of aid and more than half of people without enough food, according to the UN.

The International Rescue Committee said that so far the appeals have received less than a quarter of the required donations.

“There is an urgent need to step up the fight against food insecurity across governments, international financial institutions and the wider community of climate change actors,” said David Miliband, IRC chief executive.

The United Nations is convening a high-level pledging event in its New York headquarters on Wednesday, where member states and their partners will be encouraged to pledge financial support to address the crisis in the Horn of Africa.

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Humanitarian organizations say time is running out as affected communities have been living on little or no ground for months.

“It is too urgent. … We have averted famine before, and we can do it again. … People are already dying and there is no time for statements,” said Deepmala Mahla, CARE International’s vice president for humanitarian affairs. he told the Associated Press.

No famine has yet been declared in Somalia, where more than 6 million people are starving, but some humanitarian and climate officials have warned that trends are worse than the 2011 famine in Somalia that killed a quarter of a million people.

Official reports of famine are rare, as reference data often cannot be obtained due to conflict, poor infrastructure or politics. Governments may be wary of being associated with such a grim term.

According to local NGOs, such as the Hormuud Salaam Foundation in Somalia, permanent funding is needed.

“For lasting change, we need to equip local organizations and local people with the tools to face the inevitable climate shocks of tomorrow,” the foundation’s CEO, Abdullahi Nur Osman, told the AP.

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In some affected areas, persistent conflicts together with the effects of climate change have contributed to the growth of the crisis.

Parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are currently being hit by floods during the ongoing rainy season, and millions of people have been forced to flee their homes.

The affected areas, which were largely occupied by pastoralists, experienced prolonged dry seasons, which resulted in the destruction of livestock, which was a source of livelihood.

Parts of Somalia are struggling with insecurity due to the extremist group al-Shabab, which has carried out numerous large-scale attacks.

Northern Ethiopia has been in conflict for more than two years as regional forces have clashed with national forces. Hundreds of thousands of people have died and the situation remains fragile seven months after the signing of the peace agreement.